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Druley: Post-draft treatment a selling point for Benjamin, Remillard

Published: Monday, June 9, 2014 9:53 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, June 9, 2014 10:03 p.m. CST

Wes Benjamin and Will Remillard share a slight baseball connection in that both have charged up batteries at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

Benjamin pitched there for St. Charles East when the Cougars’ home still was called Elfstrom Stadium. Remillard remains part of the catching rotation for the Midwest League Western Division’s first-half champs, his recent trip to the disabled list notwithstanding.

Friday, the players moved toward further common ground when the Texas Rangers drafted Benjamin, a Kansas left-hander, in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Texas did so knowing of Benjamin’s Tommy John elbow surgery in April.

Last June, the parent Cubs picked Remillard in the 19th round despite a back injury that cost him the end of his season at Coastal Carolina. Like Benjamin, Remillard was a junior.

“It took a lot of thought that went into it,” Remillard said. “I didn’t sign until the last day. ... I just knew by signing I would get the best treatment and the best people to help me get healthy, and that was a huge part of why I signed.”

Benjamin entered the draft with a similar rationale, weighing the glut of information he had received from big league scouts before and since the injury with past experience.

In 2011, the New York Yankees drafted Benjamin in the 48th round just a few days after his final season at East. It wasn’t exactly the slot he was expecting. This time, as long as someone gave him a chance, Benjamin seemed intent on signing with an organization.

“Everything seems tragic, but I’m doing OK and it’s not necessarily as bad as people make it out to be,” Benjamin said last week. “It’s certainly not fun, but everybody has been very helpful to me and very courteous about my situation.

“I’m surrounded by great people and I’m really blessed to be where I am.”

Here are a few more post-draft tidbits:

• Before the clubhouse yielded to the plastic wrap and champagne treatment Saturday night as the Cougars clinched the division title, the scene was far more passive ahead of first pitch.

Whether they tracked siblings, friends or a school’s fellow alumni, the Cougars were tuned into the final day of the draft, which included rounds 11 to 40.

• Former St. Charles North and Nebraska left-hander Zach Hirsch recalls a “split childhood” of baseball fandom. Born in St. Louis, he moved to suburban Chicago at age 10 but still clung to his Cardinals loyalty in the face of many Cubs backers.

On Saturday, the Milwaukee Brewers drafted Hirsch in the 19th round, but Hirsch wasn’t fazed about joining another of St. Louis’ NL Central Division rivals.

“Miller Park’s a pretty sweet place,” Hirsch said.

Lacrosse honors abound: Three players each from the St. Charles East and North boys lacrosse teams recently earned nods as part of the all-Upstate Eight Conference first team.

For North, selections were Joe Davis (defensive midfield), Jud Huxtable (midfield) and Zach Woeste (defense). For East, Nate Campana (midfield), Brandon Huff (midfield) and Tyler Vogel (attack) were honored. Geneva attackman Brandon Heimbuch also was part of the first team.

St. Charles girls co-op athletes Katie Cottrell (defense), Mary Fahey (midfield), Emma Haley (midfield) and Liz Maisch (midfield) were first-team all-conference, as well.

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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